Why a Google Chrome OS Tablet Makes More Sense than Android

By Wesley Fenlon

Interested in rumors of a Chrome OS tablet? Here's why you should be.

There’s an interesting technological divide at Google. While they’ve been pushing hard on the Android OS, doing their best to create an open platform with consistent native apps, they’ve also been quietly working on Chrome OS, which takes the opposite approach. Chrome is all about moving us away from native applications, ditching our word processors for Google Docs, our entire operating system infrastructure for a web browser that can handle all the basic functions of a computer.

Smartphones can’t currently run off a browser--we still need to make calls with them, after all. Yet suddenly we’re seeing Android pop up in other devices, primarily tablets. Isn’t that Chrome’s territory? Perhaps: an HTC-built, Verizon-subsidized Chrome OS tablet is reportedly on the way in time for the holidays.

First off the starting block

Because Chrome is essentially a super-powered browser, it certainly has one exciting thing going for it right out of the starting gate: it’s fast. Really fast. Boot-in-like-seven-seconds-fast. Android phones don’t even start up that quickly! Is that what most users want out of a tablet? While some Windows 7-powered tablet PCs (and, to a lesser extent, Android tablets) are aiming at a more powerful, fully-featured interface, Chrome OS may be the most likely to beat the iPad at its own game. Namely, offering user-friendly simplicity, and doing it with some zip.
If DownloadSquad’s sources are reliable, the Chrome tablet launching on Black Friday will run on NVIDIA Tegra 2 with a 720p display, 2 gigs of RAM and at least a 32GB solid state drive. That should be more than enough to handle the browser games Google just showed off at GDC.

Games, games, and more games (and other apps too)

Chrome’s web store should be launching in October. It’s easy to dismiss as yet another app store, but Google is trying to show that web apps, running in a browser, can offer the same functionality as the dedicated apps we’ve grown used to in iOS and Android. And any application that works on the web will work on Chrome OS. That means games.

Google has long touted Chrome as being crazy fast (which has led to some great parodies), but that might be important for game devs. They showed off Flash games running smoothly in Chrome OS, as well as games written in HTML5 (Quake II!) and WebGL. Some of this is hard to get exciting about from the user side, because Google was actually courting developers.

Flash some cash

Chrome OS certainly isn’t poised to become a fully-functional operating system running Photoshop and iMovie. It’s all about surfing the web, using a simple interface for media, and making our day-to-day activities easier. But isn’t that what we want tablets for, anyway? If the DownloadSquad report is accurate, and the Chrome tablet launches at a low price with Verizon’s backing-- and if the web store proves to be a reliable means of acquiring quality applications--Apple could have a fight on its hands.